Adelaide Chapter

Archive for the ‘Philosophical Issues’ Category

Abductive reasoning & Conspiracy Theories by Ken Samples

On Thursday 22nd September, Dr Kenneth Samples from Reasons to Believe, spoke to RFA on “Abductive reasoning & Conspiracy Theories”.

What does this mean? Reasoning can be deductive, inductive or abductive.

  • For deductive reasoning, the conclusions are certainly true.
  • For inductive reasoning, the conclusions are probably true.
  • For abductive reasoning, the conclusions are plausibly true.

Abductive reasoning is the ‘best’ explanation for a given phenomenon, where the best explanation is the one that is most likely to be true.

A conspiracy theory is a theory that explains an event that is the result of a secret plot by powerful conspirators. Examples are:

  • the American government were engaged in a plot to kill President Kennedy.
  • a select group of people who are part of clandestine societies control the world.
  • getting vaccinated is a bigger risk to their health than getting infected with the coronavirus.

Most conspiracy theories are false, but some are true. Ken described how best to evaluate them. A video of his talk and the ensuing discussion is available on YouTube.

Kenneth Richard Samples earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his M.A. in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. He is a senior research scholar at Reasons To Believe (RTB). He uses his knowledge to help others find the answers to life’s questions and encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges sceptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level.

Who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16:15)

How does the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth compare to the other sages? How did the Sages view themselves? Were their lives and philosophies really that different? The comparisons are revealing!

Bronwyn Pearse

Bronwyn Pearse is a primary school teacher who currently works with a number of people from different religious backgrounds. Having grown up in a Christian family she has always enjoyed asking questions and digging deeper into the truth claims of Christianity. In recent years she has been exploring what makes Christianity unique amongst the world religions.

Bronwyn’s talk can be viewed on YouTube

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the idea that this is the best of all possible worlds was popular in Europe, particularly in many leading philosophical circles. To Francois-Marie Arouet, more commonly known as Voltaire, this was nonsense, and he set out to lampoon the concept in brilliant satire.

But:

  • What was the basis of this belief in the first place?
  • How effective is Voltaire’s response?
  • And what should we make of it today, particularly in our covid-ravaged world?
Brian Schroeder

Brian’s presentation is available on YouTube.

We all know that our planet is special. But how unique is it really? Is there any evidence that pertains to our existence being extraordinary?

Join Gordon and Bronwyn as they explore this fascinating topic on what science has actually uncovered about the universe’s beginning and the features of our place in space that contribute to earth’s unique features. This will be a joint presentation from Bronwyn Pearse and Gordon Stanger.

Bronwyn Pearse is a primary school teacher who currently works with a number of people from different religious backgrounds. Having grown up in a Christian family she has always enjoyed asking questions and digging deeper into the truth claims of Christianity. In recent years she has been exploring what makes Christianity unique amongst the world religions and the scientific evidence for a creator found, particularly in cosmology. During Bronwyn’s talk she refers to a couple of key web links. These can be found at https://reasons.org and https://reasons.org/connect-to-a-scho….

Dr Gordon Stanger

Dr Gordon Stanger is a geologist, hydrologist, water resources specialist, and a climate-change impact analyst. He is semi-retired and is a keen advocate of ‘sensible Christianity’. He has spoken on several occasions at our meetings. He is very knowledgeable on scientific issues, and we greatly appreciate his contribution.

Bronwyn and Gordon’s joint presentation can be viewed on YouTube.

How can you or I know that Christianity is true? One of the main aims of Reasonable Faith Adelaide is to demonstrate that Christianity is plausible and more reasonable than the alternatives. We believe that we can have confidence that God exists, and that Jesus Christ is as is ascribed to him in the Bible. In other words, our aim is to demonstrate that Christianity is true. But can we actually “know”? Is that even possible?

Brian Schroeder will address some of the evidence and will endeavour to demonstrate, as far as possible, that we can know that Christianity is true, and how we can know. Brian Schroeder is a Reasonable Faith committee member. He has BSc and BA degrees from Adelaide University (Computer Science, Physics, Mathematics), and an MA in Theology.

Brian Schroeder

His talk is available on YouTube.

According to Wikipedia, the “God of the gaps” is a theological perspective in which gaps in scientific knowledge are cited as evidence or proof of God’s existence.

This would have been a particularly attractive position at a time when people knew almost nothing, and could thus ascribe everything to God, but now that we know more and more, is God is getting squeezed out? Failures in gap arguments in the past have been embarrassing and counter-productive.

Are we in the process of eliminating God, or do gaps we still point to God, or is this an entirely erroneous concept in the first place?

Brian Schroeder presents the issues, and argue for the standard Christian response to this question. His talk is available on YouTube.

From ancient times people have gazed at the sun, moon and stars observing their consistent daily and seasonal motion, and assumed that all of this was ordered by a maker. The Enlightenment dismissed this as fanciful imagination, but as our power of observation of both the atomic and stellar scale has grown, we see increasing signs of order that only needs the slightest variation to prohibit life supporting conditions. Is there any other reason that can explain this observed fine tuning in our physical environment?

Multiverse?

Steve White presents an outline of Fine Tuning and the Multiverse. He presents evidence for the fine tuning of our universe from the sub-atomic to the stellar scale and then discusses whether Multiverse theory can explain it. Do we just happen to live in one lucky, life-supporting version, among many other universes?

Stephen White

Stephen White has had a career as a physicist and is now retired.

The presentation is available on You Tube

John Lennox has challenged whether science can prove everything? However, in this presentation, Dr Leonard Long will address the question, “Can science prove anything?” Science is practised within a belief system based on unprovable presuppositions, and can study only the patterns of behaviour of an already given functional, predictable, universe. Scientists who wander into bad philosophy will be critiqued, as will scientism – the overblown belief in science.

So Leonard’s address includes the following topics:

  • Nature of science,
  • Scientism,
  • Methodological naturalism,
  • Ideological corruption within science, and
  • Interference of politics and funding within science.
Dr Leonard Long

Leonard’s presentation is available on You Tube.

My philosophy lecturer once said, “All philosophy is a commentary on Plato”. There is much that is impressive about Greek philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. In Athens Paul referred to Stoic philosophers as a point of contact in proclaiming the Jewish Messiah. Early Christian apologists integrated Platonism with Christian belief but others were not so keen. Tertullian, a notable early church father, put it this way: “What has Athens got to do with Jerusalem?” What is the relationship between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world? Are they different?

These questions are considered here by Geoff Russell.

Geoff’s presentation is available on You Tube.

The French term “expérience de mort immente” (experience of imminent death) was proposed by French psychologist Victor Egger as a result of discussions in the 1890s among philosophers and psychologists concerning climbers’ stories of the panoramic life review during falls. In 1892 a series of subjective observations by workers falling from scaffolds, soldiers who suffered injuries, climbers who had fallen from heights or other individuals who had come close to death (near drownings, accidents) was reported by Albert Heim. This was also the first time the phenomenon was described as a clinical syndrome.

Professor Kenneth Ring (1980) subdivided Near Death Experiences (NDEs) into a five-stage continuum. The subdivisions were:

  1. Peace
  2. Body separation
  3. Entering darkness
  4. Seeing the light
  5. Entering the light

The following explanatory models have been proposed for NDEs

  1. Spiritual or Transcendental models
  2. Psychological explanations
  3. Physiological (organic) explanations

So what should we make of NDEs? Cardiac surgeons are objective observers of people who “die on the operating table”. They have to write clinical reports that are subject to review. Some of their patients come back to life after being pronounced dead. What do surgeons think about NDE? Are NDEs a preview into the afterlife?

Stephen White

Stephen White tells us what he has found. His presentation is on You Tube.